The two most important games of the 2018 New York State Class B high school baseball season remained: the semifinal and the state championship. For most athletes, pressure builds like a boiler room with the threat of failure breathing down their neck in these games. Any shred of doubt can ruin most athletes — but Stony Brook Baseball freshman pitcher Liam Pulsipher is not like most athletes.
In the semifinal game, Pulsipher only surrendered two hits on 76 total pitches and ended with two strikeouts, advancing the Center Moriches High School Red Devils to the championship in a 4-0 shutout. The following afternoon, the Red Devils trailed behind Binghamton Seton Catholic Central by four runs heading into the final inning, but the pitcher refused to surrender and rallied the lapsed team together on the bench.
“I was really getting on them — I was yelling at them,” Pulsipher said. “[The] kids’ heads were down and I was like ‘Come on guys. We are gonna win this game, we can’t get all the way here and we’re gonna lose!’”
The pitcher’s declaration worked. The Red Devils exploded on the final offensive push, scoring seven runs in the final inning and winning the State Championship, 10-7. Whether it was pitching a gem when facing elimination or rallying the team in the dugout to do the impossible, Pulsipher never lost confidence in himself or his teammates because confidence and baseball are fundamental parts of who he is.
If you were a New York Mets fan in the 90s, you probably recognize the name “Pulsipher” — Liam’s father, former Mets second round pick Bill Pulsipher, made one-third of the upstart pitching group dubbed “Generation K,” alongside Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson. The game of baseball naturally became a major part of the younger Pulsipher’s life.
“It was all I knew,” Pulsipher said. “My dad [is such] a huge factor in my life, even if he wasn’t [always] around. Still, baseball was a huge part of my family even before that, too. It was just fun to play.”
Having been “force-fed” the game of baseball from three years old, Liam credited everything from his passion to exceeding expectations to his father. Ironically enough, the freshman even became a left-handed pitcher just like his dad. But while the elder Pulsipher appreciated the sentiment, he disagreed with his son.
“I don’t know if I can take all the credit, because he still has to go out there, he has to do it and he has to perform,” Bill Pulsipher said. “I like to think that I helped instill the work ethic and the knowledge that I’ve given him has helped steer him in the direction that he’s in. But he has to be the guy that goes out there and gets the job done. The pressures that people will place and expect are a lot, but he’s done a tremendous job so far.”
Pulsipher attended Center Moriches High School, captaining both the soccer and baseball team in his senior year. After commanding the soccer team to a state title in the fall, Liam turned his sights toward the baseball championship. Dennis Donovan, his baseball coach, observed how the pitcher matured into a natural leader throughout his varsity career.
“He understood as he grew at Center Moriches how to use his competitiveness to his advantage,” Donovan said. “He’s one of those kids that had to earn everything. His tools are above average [even if] he’s not one of those kids who are just gonna throw it 100 miles per hour and throw it right by people. He really had to hone his skills and kinda mentally understand the game better than anyone else out there.”
Pulsipher committed to Stony Brook as a high school junior, citing his mother’s wishes for him to remain local and his dad’s desire for him to find his best fit. The pitcher was also interested in joining the Stony Brook family after watching its 2012 College World Series Tournament run and his interactions with the coaching staff.
“I like his consistency. He has a quiet confidence about him, where he’s really the same guy whether he has a dominant performance or he may struggle,” Stony Brook pitching coach Tyler Kavanaugh said. “He’s the same kid. That’s such an invaluable asset for any player, especially a pitcher. He’s gonna have tough innings, he’s gonna make good pitches that get hit, and to have that resolve, that emotional intelligence and coping skills to come right back to the next pitch is really gonna help us down the road.”
As he gears up for his first spring season as a Seawolf, Pulsipher has been setting his sights on ambitious goals for his time at Stony Brook University.
“Obviously, that College World Series is looking pretty nice,” the freshman said. “I want to get there and I want to win it. You always wanna shoot for the stars, ‘cause you never know, you might end up among the clouds. I don’t wanna look too far down the road and talk about getting drafted, but that’s everyone’s dream to get there and play professional baseball.”
The pitcher concluded the interview, declaring, “I want to be the best player who has ever come here,” with his trademark confidence — the same confidence that sparked and thrived within Pulsipher as he threw his first ever pitch, enabling him to win his high school state championship in the most improbable way and got him into Stony Brook in the years to come. A confidence that will surely continue to drive him to greatness during his four years here and beyond.